Friday, February 15, 2013

Small-Hour Love

Last night, after a lovely Valentine's Day (and my mother's birthday as I've noted before), I woke up at 4:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. I tried my meditation, I read a poem on my Poetry Daily app (this one, it's great), I checked my email (thank you, Jason Schneiderman for giving me a great email to read at 4:30 in the morning), but nothing seemed to lull me back into the sweet black of sleep. So I thought. And I thought. 

I thought about the future, and what it is going to be like, I thought about money (because that's what we do at that hour), I thought about the dog's little rash on her chin, I thought about moving to California, I thought about staying in Kentucky, I thought about Lucas and his career, I thought about Cynthia, I thought about my grandparents, I thought about my brothers, and my nephew, I thought about my parents, I thought about my friends, I thought about the animals of my friends, I thought about my body, my health, my weight, my eyes, my teeth. I thought about the weather and the earth, I thought about the moon and the ocean, I thought about my novel, and I thought about poems,  and I thought about this new idea that I have which could be a play or maybe a young adult novel, or maybe nothing at all, and that's how I let the 2 hours pass. In the dark. With all those thoughts. This morning, a little worse for wear, I realized maybe I needed that. It was Valentine's Day after all, maybe what I was doing was just giving a little bit of love to all those things.Today, I don't want to call it "worry." I want it to be more like "attention." Maybe those things just needed attention. Maybe they needed a little early morning, small-hour love. And if you woke up from a dream wondering if someone was thinking of you, someone was. It was me. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Object Love

I was trying to write about something; I wanted to have interesting thoughts, but I had none. So I wrote to my friend Trish on gchat. She asked me if I had seen the show Girls, and I hadn't. Then we were silent for awhile and I said, "Okay, I have to go now and do Pilates." To which she replied, "Love." And I don't know if that was the subject she was suggesting or just her sweet way of signing off. But I took it anyway as Valentine's Day is tomorrow (which is my mother's birthday), and all the world's advertising is telling us how important love is. I agree. It is the most important thing. 

Photo Credit: Linda Todd-Limón
So many different forms of love. This week my heart has been stinging because my dad sold his house in the Northwest. A house I had seen built when I was 15; it was the house my little brother was raised in; it was the house my stepmom passed away in. It's hard to see such a beloved place no longer belong in the family. I wasn't raised there, but it felt very much like my family home; I'm going to miss it, and the land surrounding it, immensely. 

I was thinking of those women; the women who marry buildings and structures. The San Francisco woman, Erika Eiffel who married (can you guess?) the Eiffel tower. The Swedish woman Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer who married (can you guess?) the Berlin Wall. And how--to a much lesser degree--we can all love objects. What we pour into an object or a place, can be as powerful and as "real" as what we pour into a person. I feel that way about the house. We called it the Lodge when Cynthia, my stepmom, was alive. Afterwards, when Dad was getting back on his feet and learning to live alone and finally looking for love again, we called it Second Wind. And the name Second Wind proved a good luck charm in ways. It blew him right into the arms of a woman who couldn't be more perfect for him. It blew him straight to love-town, and with the new marriage, and a new life, retirement and all the kids out on their own, they're looking for a new home together. It's ideal really, the kind of good thing you would fall down and ask the universe for, your father's true happiness.
Photo Credit: Linda Todd-Limón

Except, what do you do with the love of an object, a place, a home? Where do you put it? This morning, I was thinking you may have to grieve it as you would a real relationship. You might have to think about it and cry and finally get to that place where you can hope it has a good life without you. You may have to write stories for it and poems and honor it. Of course then, it made me think of the poem One Art by Elizabeth Bishop (which is my favorite poem), the lines: 

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then, I thought of Yeats's The Lake Isle of Innisfree and the lines:

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

And so many more. Love poems to places, to objects, to memories. Then, I thought that's why poets don't need to get married to buildings. We write poems to them instead. That's how we honor. So I have no need to be Ada Limón-Second Wind. I could just be me and let the "art of losing" lead me to a poem. That's how we love. 

Friday, February 01, 2013

Life, Friends, is Not Boring. It's Just Cold.

According to this here online journal/blog, the last time I updated was near Halloween. Which was nearly 3 months ago. Occasionally, when I worry about not posting enough, the worry turns into a slight (or severe) phobia and then I just give up and won’t post at all. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but maybe something a little like that. The longer I went without talking over here, the more I felt some desperate need to explain what I’ve been doing with myself for the last 3 months, like confession. Blogger, forgive me, it's been 3 months since my last ramble.

Most of November was spent in California visiting family and friends, writing, and working freelance. Both brothers visited, wine tasting was accomplished, beer tasting was accomplished, major dog-love was accomplished. While were were out there in Sonoma (my heart, my home), I wrote an essay for Jennifer L. Knox’s Chick Flix series over at Delirious Hem, which then got picked up for inclusion in the next edition of the best-selling textbook, The World is a Text.

Most of December was spent in New York City, and upstate New York, visiting family and friends. I read for The College of New Jersey for INK, and the conversation afterwards was amazing. We talked about love and how to stay present in the world, and crushes, and heartbreaks. It was a supremely satisfying evening full of hungry young souls and a great open-hearted conversation about creating. Then back to Sonoma, California for more Valley love and old elementary school friends (the Dunbar Demons reunited), then back to New York again where I got to catch up with friends that I'd been sorely missing. 

Most of January was spent right here in Kentucky working hard on the ongoing novel. I
finished a strangely gratifying 6th draft that someone may or may not be reading right now. (I’m trying not to think about it.). Luckily more freelance work came and it was work that I love. Then, my online class with the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center launched on January 7. (It's truly a wonderful workshop, I'm not lying.) Then, there has been the great return to poetry, poetry, poetry. I am trying to write a poem a week in 2013. So far I have five, so I'm right on track. It helps if you make yourself do every assignment you give your students. Also, I had two poems come out in TriQuaterly Online and one of them got picked up for Poetry Daily. Oh and Adam Clay and I started a reading series here in Lexington, KY called The Black Sheep Reading SeriesWe are still getting it off the ground slowly, but it’s so good to have poets visit and bring us work and life and laughter and a reason to toast.

Still, like everyone, I look around and say, “Whoa where did all that time go? What have I been doing with my life?” It turns out that life, friends, is NOT boring. (Forgive me John Berryman). Yesterday, all day, I kept thinking. I want to write something really fantastic. (I’m not making that up.) That’s what I kept saying to myself. In between work emails, and dog emptying, and my daily exercises, I’d stare at the screen, or pour tea, and I'd think, “I want to write something really fantastic.” But I didn’t. Oh sure, some poetry was revised, and I did some good work here and there, but nothing earth shattering. Still, I keep going, like a slightly busted up car that still starts and is happy when that’s all that’s required of it.

And here we are; the first month of the year done and accomplished and complete. It's cold outside (9 degrees!) and I am still wishing for warmth. Snow is on the woodpile and these days the dog rushes indoors quickly to her favorite heater vent in the kitchen and shoves her face right down in it to get warm. I suspect, like all poets, I am terribly anxious for spring. I will be another year older in March, a new poetry tour will begin in April. And life will continue to not be boring, even if sometimes we wish it so. All year, I will attempt to write something fantastic; hopefully all my pretty little failures in between will keep me warm until then.